The blog round…

Kicking off with Splintered Sunrise focuses on the grantocracy that has dominated government policy for generations:

The real expansion has been in the grantocracy, but it seems to be impervious to market forces due to the demands of the peace process. Any weeding out there would involve a lot of Provos and loyalists losing comfortable if not exactly lucrative positions heading up funded community schemes. The peace process requires that these guys be kept very much on the payroll. (There’s even a little spin-off for the left, as the Socialist ‘Workers’ Party is now deeply ensconced in the community sector, although one presumes the two governments didn’t plan for that.)

– Jeff Peel on the Tory NI blog warns any prospective candidate for the new top job at the SDLP that the party isn’t quite as visionary as it claims on the tin…

– And, shock horror, Sarah loved Brian Lenihan’s patriotic flourish at the end of the speech… (if only she could tell Enda how to make some capital out of it):

We can take the pain! I don’t mind cutbacks. Just tell me how this humble housewife can do her part to save the country. What can I say? I was reared in the 80’s and it left a lasting impression.

– P O’Neill picks up on a particularly saccharinised piece on the music scene in Belfast in the NYT…

– O’Neill (no relation) waxes on Alex Salmond’s now apparently insolvent Arc of Prosperity…

– Dan offers a cunning plan on the Republic’s over 70s medical card fiasco

– Michael Taft takes on the same government over when you should means test and when you shouldn’t

– In an obliquely related matter Chris Dillow notes that the NHS is “a massive, bloated top-down bureaucracy” that actually works, because the people who work there have motives other than narrow self interest

– In the Britblog Round Up the denial of abortion to Northern Irish women in Northern Ireland (it is freely available in most other parts of the UK) is causing waves for a second week…

– Bethan notes that a key Westminster committee is fighting the devolution of a power to WAG to suspend the sales of council houses in selected areas…